In today's On the News segment: There are more than 300 natural gas storage facilities around the US like the one leaking in Aliso Canyon, and any one of them could be the site of the next disaster; millennials want climate action, and they say that they're willing to vote for it; new research finds a majority of adults willing to give up other substances in favor of therapeutic cannabis; and more.
Thom Hartmann here - on the best of the rest of.... Science and green news....
You need to know this. The massive methane leak in California is only the tip of a giant, dangerous iceberg. According to a new report from EcoWatch, there are more than 300 similar natural gas storage facilities around the US, and any one of them could be the site of the next disaster. The ongoing leak at Porter Ranch continues to pour thousands of pounds of methane into our atmosphere every hour, and we continue to learn just how badly our natural gas infrastructure has been managed. A recent report from LA Weekly about the Aliso Canyon leak says that the well was last inspected in 1976, and the safety valve that may have prevented the leak was inexplicably removed just three years later. And while officials in California are busy dealing with that ongoing disaster, hundreds of gas wells all across our country pose a similar threat. That's why Jennifer Krill over at EcoWatch is calling for some big changes to the way natural gas wells are managed in California, and they are changes that we should be implementing nationwide. First things first, we must push for an immediate effort to shut down every natural gas well that lacks basic safety equipment, like shut off valves, before we end up with another Aliso Canyon. Only after we are safe from another potential disaster can we implement stricter oversight and management of wells and natural gas storage facilities. We should also demand that when leaks do happen, the companies that manage those wells provide support for surrounding residents impacted by methane pollution. The gas companies - not the taxpayers - should be on the hook for financial compensation and health care costs. And above all else, we must continue to push our nation away from all fossil fuels, including natural gas, and move to 100 percent clean energy. Just like the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the Aliso Canyon leak shows what happens when we allow corporations to destroy our planet in the name of profit. We have the technology now to make that happen, but it's going to take all of us standing together to stand up to these powerful interests.
Campbell's Soup says you should have the right to know what's in your food. Last week, that company came out in favor of national mandatory GMO labeling. According to a recent press release by the Environmental Working Group, "Nine out of ten American consumers want the right to know, and want a GMO disclosure on the food package." However, despite those statistics, Congress has bowed to companies like Monsanto, and refused to give us that right. Consumers in at least 64 other nations are able to decide for themselves whether to eat genetically modified food, but here in the so-called "Land of the Free," corporations have been given the right to decide that for us. In the words of the EWG, "Campbell's should be applauded for trusting consumers to do their homework and make the choices that reflect their values." If Congress refuses to give us the right to know what's in our food, we can use our dollars to show our support for companies that provide such vital information.
Millennials want climate action, and they say that they're willing to vote for it. According to a new poll released by USA Today and Rock the Vote, 80 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 say that they want a "rapid transition" to clean or renewable energy. And they say that climate change should be first and foremost in our national priorities. According to 34-year-old Scott McGreary of Seattle, "If we don't have a place to live, then it doesn't really make sense to worry about anything else." Like Scott, young people understand that many other issues, like the economy or national security, are impacted by our changing climate. Ashley Spillane, president of Rock the Vote, said, "As the largest generation in our nation's history, we have the power to be the most influential force in electing our next president and our voices deserve to be an integral part of the conversation this election." In other words, millennials are getting active, and they are going to shape our future by voting for candidates who support climate action.
For decades, the pharmaceutical industry has been lobbying hard to keep pot illegal. Now that cannabis prohibition has ended in several states, we're seeing exactly what Big Pharma was so afraid of. According to a recent survey by the Center for Addictions Research, 87 percent of adult medical marijuana users gave up other drugs, alcohol or prescription medications in favor of therapeutic cannabis. In fact, adults under the age of 40 were likely to stop using all three substances if they could access legal pot. In their study, researchers confirmed that cannabis users were able to stop the use of prescription drugs for health problems like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, gastrointestinal issues and chronic pain. And that's just the beginning of the documented health benefits of medical marijuana. Considering that there are numerous studies now which prove cannabis has incredible benefits, it's amazing that the plant hasn't been completely decriminalized. But thankfully the evidence is mounting in favor of legalization, and the opposition to legal pot will soon be out of talking points.
And finally ... If you want to be happier - get a hobby. According to new research by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, valuing our time more than worrying about making money actually leads to a greater sense of wellbeing. In order to test their theory, researchers analyzed six different studies with more than 4,600 participants to determine whether people value time or money more in terms to happiness. After reviewing the results, the lead researcher said, "It appears that people have a stable preference for valuing their time over making more money, and prioritizing time is associated with greater happiness." And, they found that even small changes can make a big difference in improving our quality of life. It may seem counter-intuitive but if we want better lives, maybe we should think a little more about hobbies and a little less about the recent record-high lottery prize.
And that's the way it is for the week of January 18, 2016. I'm Thom Hartmann on Science and Green News.